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Brands Hatch is one of those circuits that has been on my wish list for a long time to visit. When I made a Circuit Tour through England in 2018, the time had finally come. I knew the circuit since the early 90’s and it was one of my favorite tracks, because of the abrupt height differences.
The history of Brands Hatch in brief
Brands Hatch is a race track in West Kingsdown, Kent in England. Originally used as a grass track for motorcycles on agricultural land that belonged to Brands Farm. With the permission of the land owner, the site was used for training and time trials by a group of cyclists. The first race was held in 1926, surprisingly between cyclists and cross-country runners.
A few years later, motorcyclists used the track too and built a three-quarter mile track. This course ran through a valley and was run anti-clockwise. That was the beginning of Brands Hatch as a motor racing circuit. Over the years, the track was expanded and the driving direction changed to clockwise.
From 1964 to 1986, the Brands Hatch Circuit hosted the Formula 1 British Grand Prix 12 times. Today the track hosts races for the UK Touring Car Championship, GT Series, Sprint Cup, NASCAR Euro Series, Formula 3, Superbikes, Truck Racing and the DTM.
The Brands Hatch Rallycross Track
From 1982 to 1994, Brands Hatch was also the scene of the annual British Rallycross Grand Prix. This was partly driven on the paved circuit and partly on a gravel track. Although the Rallycross circuit has not been used for many years, there is still a part of the gravel track. Only the connections with the normal circuit have long disappeared.
The 2018 Circuit Tour
It was Friday morning, August 3, when I woke up in a hotel near London. This was the last day of my Circuit Tour through England. In the afternoon I would go back through the Eurotunnel to the part of Europe where they drive on the right.
But before that I would first visit the Brands Hatch circuit. I had seen many races on this track on TV and together with Donington Park this was high on my wish list.
Brands Hatch was the eleventh circuit of my tour. On the way to England I had taken a detour along the old circuit of Reims-Gueux in Northern France. In England I successively visited Crystal Palace, Brooklands, Silverstone, Mallory Park, Donington Park, Oulton Park, Aintree, Leyland Test Track, Cadwell Park and last but not least Brands Hatch.
Not welcome at Silverstone
In advance I had contacted all operational circuits on my route. I received a positive response from most of the circuits and the Brooklands Museum. The only bummer was Silverstone who did not respond to my request.
So I went to Silverstone as a normal visitor, but unfortunately the circuit was closed to visitors that day. As an alternative, I went as a visitor to Mallory Park, which was on the route to Donington Park.
Fortunately I was welcome on the other operational circuits. This was mainly because these are all part of the Motorsport Vision group of former Formula 1 driver Jonathan Palmer.
Funnily enough, Jonathan Palmer was also the one who drove the first ever Formula 1 car I saw live in action. That was during a demonstration in the opening act of the very first Marlboro Master at Zandvoort in 1991. I was so excited that a few weeks later I went to Spa-Francorchamps for my first ever Belgian Grand Prix.
Later I ran into Palmer again during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That was almost literal because we almost bumped into each other. He seemed in a hurry so I couldn’t tell him how he influenced my passion for motorsport.
My visit to Brands Hatch
So I arrived at the Brands Hatch circuit on Friday morning, August 3, 2018. I had to report to the reception after which I was given a tour through the infield. After a visit to the control tower we made a pit walk.
That day there were training sessions for GT races, in which the Dutch team Equipe Verschuur also took part. So I was not the only Dutchy at Brands Hatch.
During the lunch break I was allowed to drive a few laps with my car on the Indy Circuit. On the condition that I would not drive at race pace. And because I had the car loaded with luggage, including a laptop, that wasn’t such a good idea anyway.
The most challenging corner is Paddock Hill Bend. Even at low speed you could feel the elevations in this one corner very well. I would have liked to do a lap on the full circuit, but that was not possible that day. However, they gave me the opportunity to film parts of the Grand Prix Circuit while walking.
After I filmed the remaining part of the Rallycross Circuit and did a track walk on parts of the Grand Prix Circuit, it was time to say goodbye to Brands Hatch and England. It was a fun trip along many different types of circuits. From operational circuits to ruins, everything was included in this tour.
So far the report of my visit to Brands Hatch. Have you ever visited this circuit? Share your memories in a comment below this article!
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